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Starlink: Battle for Atlas is a science fiction action-adventure video game developed by Ubisoft Toronto and published by Ubisoft. It was released on October 16, 2018 for Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. The game also features optional toys-to-life elements.
Unique to the Nintendo Switch version is the cross over of the Star Fox series, also in application to the toys-to-life.
Starlink: Battle for Atlas is an action-adventure game third-person perspective set in the Atlas star system. The player ventures into different parts of the Atlas system, meet with different aliens species and form an alliance with them in order to build a crew. Forming these alliances changes the game's world state, which will then changes the gameplay experience. In the game, the player can use their spaceships to freely explore the open Atlas system. Split-screen multiplayer mode is also featured in the game, allowing two players to explore the space and planets together. All ships can take off into space, and skim on planet's surface. The transition between space and planet surface is described as "seamless". Each planet has their own landscape, story, hazards, flora and fauna that may become a threat to the player. The player can also engage in both space- and land-based combat with enemies using spaceships. These spaceships can be extensively customized with different parts. Wings, weapons, and spacecraft modules can be freely swapped at will. The player is encouraged to experiment with different combinations of weapons as different enemies react differently to attacks. Pilots are also present and has special abilities that can be utilized in combat. For instance, one type of pilot can slow down time. There are 4 types of ships and pilots.
While the game can be played digitally, the game features toys-to-life elements in which the player can buy toys, which are ship components, for the game. The player can place their toys on a custom controller mount, and their digital counterpart will appear on-screen. When the player swap the components of their real-life toy ships, its counterpart will also reflect such changes instantly. Each ship has two points which allows the player to connect spacecraft parts with the ships. Purchasing a physical part also unlocks its digital counterpart, meaning that the player does not necessarily have to use the toys and the controller mount to play the game.
Star Fox references
- Fox recites his "rock and roll" quote he spoke at the start of the Corneria mission in Star Fox 64 and subsequent rereleases and remakes.
- Not in the game itself, but the September 13 Nintendo Direct Clip for Starlink's title, "Playtime is over, Starlink", is a paraphrase of Wolf's line to Fox McCloud on Bolse. Similarly, the narrator opens the segment with "Don't get too cocky, Star Fox", which is what Wolf declares upon arriving at Venom with the Wolfen II.
- Fox McCloud greatly resembles his character design used in-game and in artworks. The Arwing resembles it's Zero appearance, complete with yellow tipped wings, but follows the art-style of Starlink and has aesthetic high-functionallity akin to Star Fox: Assault. Similarly, Falco Lombardi, Slippy Toad, and Peppy Hare share a similar character design used in-game and artworks. Wolf O'Donnell and his team also resemble their designs from Star Fox Zero.
The game was developed by Ubisoft Toronto for Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One. Development for the game begun after the CEO of Ubisoft Yves Guillemot assigned the team to create a new game which mixes "breakthrough technology and innovative gameplay". Shortly after, a small team of 10 developers began brainstorming different ideas and pitching it to the developers. The team eventually came up with the idea of creating a new toys-to-life game, and this idea was approved by Guillemot. The team then soon began prototyping the technology of a Starlink spaceship, which includes exposed wires and duct tape. Nonetheless, it received an enthusiastic reaction from the team and they soon began working on creating the Atlas system, which set the game's foundation as an open world game. While the game was originally intended for kids aged between 8 and 11, the team later changed the target audience to include a wider age group after seeing the positive reaction from parents who have watched their children playing the game. The game features a two-player cooperative multiplayer mode as the team thought that it will be interesting to see players exchanging parts for their ships during play. According to the game's producer, Matthew Rose, the team "never want to tell kids they're being creative wrong". Therefore, the team allowed players to combine all parts freely, including having the wings of the spacecraft placed upside down and the weapons facing backward.
The toys-to-life technology featured in Starlink was developed in-house by Ubisoft Toronto. To ensure that the game is consumer-friendly, this aspect of the game was made optional, meaning that players can play the game digitally without purchasing any of the toys. Critics commented on the timing in which Ubisoft announced the title. It was during the time where popular toys-to-life titles including Skylanders and Disney Infinity were winding down. According to Laurent Malville, the game's creative director, the team believed that the game had enough innovation to revive the failing genre. Starlink: Battle for Atlas was announced by publisher Ubisoft during its press conference at E3 2017. At E3 2018 it was announced that the Nintendo Switch version of the game would feature a playable Fox McCloud and his Arwing ship from the Star Fox series, as well as supporting characters from the series in non-playable roles. The game was released on October 16, 2018.
The idea of bringing Fox into Starlink began at E3 2017. At the time, Ubisoft had a single private room to showcase the game, and a few executives from Nintendo came by. This visit was repeated three or four times, to the point where President of Nintendo of America, Reggie Fils-Aimé, arrived. Afterwards, the developers were invited to Nintendo HQ in Japan to showcase the game to Shigeru Miyamoto and he entire original Star Fox development team. The developers pitched the idea of integrating Fox into Starlink, giving him his own special abilities and his own skill tree, like any of the other pilots. They also pitched the Arwing as a modular ship, just like all the other Starlink ships. Miyamoto was given a 3D printed Arwing. Ubisoft was later given the go-ahead to integrate Fox.
Starlink: Battle for Atlas received "generally favorable reviews" on the Xbox One and "mixed or average reviews" on the Nintendo Switch and PlayStation 4 versions of the game according to review aggregator Metacritic.
- https://news.ubisoft.com/article/how-star-fox-joined-forces-with-starlink-battle-for-atlas-e3-2018 HOW STAR FOX JOINED FORCES WITH STARLINK: BATTLE FOR ATLAS – E3 2018
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